- We were created to be married.
- The Bible treats Marriage as the norm for men and women.
- Therefore singleness is not the norm and not an equal status before God.
- Therefore singleness is not a gift.
- For if we were created to be married then singleness cannot be a gift.
The premise of the book is that singleness cannot be a gift. If this premise is shown to be false then the book falls apart. My hope is that the book will fall apart in the minds and hearts of singles and pastors and teachers everywhere. Why?
There are two points at which this book fails.
- First, she compares not having a spouse to not eating. I think this is a fair comparison. For she says, and I agree that we were created to eat just as well as we were created to be married. It isn't a perfect analogy but one that works. Her argument is that someone not being married is like someone being hungry. And to tell someone that singleness is a gift is tantamount to telling someone that hunger is a gift. This argument actually betrays some unbiblical paradigms in her thinking. She assumes that suffering is not a gift to rejoice over, whether it be suffering because you are single or suffering because you are hungry. Such a way of thinking ignores James 1 and Romans 5, not to mention the stories of Job, Joseph and Paul who said, "...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:11-13). And what is so frustrating is that such discussions are treated with contempt throughout the book. This is not a pat answer. Paul is in prison and is in a position of suffering that makes not having a spouse seem a little small. He might die. I agree that we should be careful when we discuss this with someone who is single. I actually agree that it is biblical to encourage someone to seek a spouse. But like anything, it must be done with the understanding that if you do not get married in your youth or ever, that contentment should be the order of the day. Why not counsel them to seek a spouse but not at the expense of their contentment with where God has them now.
- Second, Mrs. Maken fails in her discussion on Providence. She is guided by experience over against the testimony of Scripture. She argues against those who would trust in God's Providence by using a personal anecdote of someone who is "lazy" about getting a wife. Well Hell's bells, I could use the argument of someone so desperate to live out the creational mandate to get a spouse that he beat a woman over the head and dragged her back to the cave to say that we ought not listen to her book! In other words she should have argued with scholarly defenders of a classical evangelical view of Providence and its day in and day out relevance to life. But she chose to argue with someone who does not have a biblically informed picture of Providence. If she had, she would have read (even if done so randomly) that a confidence in God's Providential Hand has nothing in common with laziness but much to do with the fact that whatever difficulty, suffering or trial or even hope realized and dream fulfilled is to be seen as done by God. It is simply foolish to presume that because God's revealed will calls for everyone besides a distinct few to have a spouse (a premise I reject) that all must reject the call to contentment because they have no spouse. Let's talk about Joseph, who should not have been in jail as women should not be single. He did not choose jail and some single women do not choose singleness. He suffered because of the sins of sinful men. Some single women suffer because of the sins of single men who would rather play video games and drive sports cars than grow up and get married. Joseph wanted out of jail as some single women want out of singleness. God provided a way for him to get out of jail and God provides a spouse so that some single people escape (some sooner and some later, for Joseph it was later) the suffering they were enduring. Joseph attributes the sins of other men (brothers) as God doing something through their sins...we have no record of complaint. Though the author of Getting Serious is now married we have the very opposite in printed form, for in her way of thinking he might be sovereign over singleness but it is not really relevant to the quest of a spouse. She simply assumes that if we cite God's Sovereignty over the sinful actions of others we have excused the sin. This is to fight a strawman. Those of us who would disagree with her simply want to assert that every suffering (even loneliness) and every dream that is realized (marriage) are circumstances in which we should rejoice (I did not say act like all is easy and rosy). Listen to James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." To rejoice in suffering (Romans 5) and count it all joy when you face various trials (James 1) is to assume the suffering is for a good reason and therefore a gift. This of course does not excuse sin that might cause these trials, it simply explains that there is a purpose in trials, even in Singleness.
I can appreciate her frustrations to some degree. But her bitterness never rises to the level of righteous indignation. Sneers seem to leap from the page and anger is the rule and not the exception. Those she disagrees with she either writes off or rolls her eyes at. Let me say in closing I sympathize a lot with some of her cultural diagnoses. She sees many of the problems that are really there. But borrowed cultural analyses even if good, is no cover for ignoring Biblical paradigms. Her view of suffering is at odds with the Biblical paradigm. God is obviously sovereign over sin and the results of sin(Romans 11) and yet is angry at it. This differs from Mrs. Maken as she is not in control and seems to be angry about that.